How To Use Influencer Marketing As A List Building Strategy

Without an audience, you can’t build a list.

Connecting with influencers is one of the most cost-effective and fastest ways to grow your audience. One successful influencer outreach campaign can get the kind of results that would take a year to achieve plugging away at social media posts, blogging promotion and engaging with your existing followers.

Studies have shown that influencer marketing returns an average of $7.65 for every dollar invested.  Returns like this are hard to come by and prove that connecting with established bloggers and successful Instabloggers or YouTube stars is worth doing properly.

The game plan when reaching out to influencers is typically to build awareness of your own brand or product and to build your credibility by piggy-backing on the reputation of the influencer you’re working with.

While influencer marketing may seem as easy as finding an influencer, getting them on board, paying them and BAAM!, instant growth, a badly executed strategy can become expensive and may not even deliver.

So let’s look at how you can create a successful influencer outreach strategy that doesn’t waste your money and actually helps you grow your list.

Know What You Want To Achieve Before You Start

What are your marketing goals and how are you planning to measure the success of the campaign?  Will you have more leads, greater brand awareness, or maybe more sales?

You need to understand exactly what you want to achieve so that you can measure the success of the campaign accurately and also find the influencers most likely to get the best results endorsing you.

When you’ve identified your marketing goals, you’ll then be able to decide how to measure the results.  You may choose to focus on tracking new leads,  audience reach, conversions or sales, depending on your objectives.

Find The Influencer Who Can Deliver The Best Results

This is the tough part.  You’ll find many so-called ‘influencers’ ready to take your cash in exchange for a sponsored post.  Avoid these.

You’re looking for business partners who will be as interested in and excited about your brand as you are.  You want advocates who care about the value you’re offering to their followers, who will be authentic, transparent and great to work with.

It helps that you’re paying them to endorse something they’re already excited about.   These kinds of influencers easily have the trust of their audience and ultimately, you’re paying for trust because trust converts to even greater return on your investment.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the types of influencers you should think about targeting.

Industry Celeb: Industry celebrities are instantly recognizable within your industry.  Think of wealth creation and you may think of Tony Robbins, think of social media and you might think of Mari Smith.  Their recognition comes with an expensive price tag, so the top of the league influencers may be beyond your budget.  If so, don’t worry, you’ve still got the top 5% …

Top 5%:  To find the top ranking influencers in your niche, use a tool like Alexa to search for bloggers with a website that ranks below 100K and gets 250K+ visits each month.  These influencers will be cheaper than celebrities but still pretty expensive so if you’re budget doesn’t stretch this far, you’ve got the top 10% …

Top 10%: These influencers will see between 250K and 100K monthly visitors to their blog and are most accessible for small lifestyle bloggers and brands just starting their first influencer campaign.

The Power Middle: These influencers are highly engaged with their audience, though the volume of traffic they get is far smaller at 2500 to 25K visitors per month.  Despite the smaller audience, they can be highly effective influencers who can offer a great return on investment.

While your budget will put limits on the type of influencer you can choose, the goal of your campaign is just as important in deciding who you reach out to.

Typically, when trying to build awareness, a celebrity endorsement will give exciting results.  If on the other hand, you’re more interested in building your list, increasing social shares or growing your social media following, the lower level influencers can be the better option.

Sometimes one influencer is not enough …

Only a small percentage of people online follow through on a call to action the first time they see it, even if it is endorsed by their favourite influencer.  The more frequently they come across your brand or product in a short time, the higher the chances of them taking action.

This is why it can pay to plan a campaign that has multiple influencers in the same niche, targeting the same audience, endorsing you or your brand at the same time.

Establish How You’ll Share Your Brand

Once you’ve found the right influencer for your campaign, you’ll need to work out how you can help them get your brand or product to their audience.

Popular influencer marketing tactics include sponsored content and affiliate marketing.

Sponsored content

Sponsored content is perfect if you’re trying to establish yourself in a niche, showcase your expertise, get people to your own blog or build a following.  It gives you much more control over the message that reaches the influencer’s audience.  As a guest writer on an influencer’s blog, you have maximum control.  Even if the influencer you’re working with is creating the content,  as they are being paid they will likely ensure that their message is in line with your goals.

Interviews are another popular form of sponsored content. Being interviewed by your chosen influencer or interviewing them for your own blog is a popular way to reach their audience.  Again, this gives you a lot of control over the kind of content that reaches the influencer’s audience.

The downside to sponsored content is that the influencer’s work is typically over once the content you’ve paid for has been created and shared.  They are not likely to continue to promote your message once the campaign has ended.

When working out a sponsored content package, be sure to agree upon the exact terms.  Will the content be shared on social media?  If so, how many times and on which platforms?

Affiliate programs

Affiliate offers are popular with influencers because they get paid for every sale they generate and unlike the one-time sponsored content payment, they can continue to get paid over time.  This is a huge incentive for them to work hard at reaching and converting as much of their audience as they can.  It can result in a great return on investment for you.

The downside is that the influencer must be sure your product is a great fit for their audience or believe they can convert their audience in order to get paid.  This involves a risk they may not be willing to take, particularly if your product is new and untested.

Also, while they may be able to send the traffic, it’s up to you to convert via your landing page and if it doesn’t convert, nobody gets paid.

The Affiliate offers Sponsored Content Combo

Both tactics have their merits, which makes combining both a great idea.  Influencers who get paid for sponsored content that also includes an affiliate link to your product are likely to keep sharing and promoting the content as it will continue to generate income.

Best case scenario, other influencers may see the content, discover your affiliate program and create content based on your product, without you ever paying a penny.  Win!

Be creatively involved in the content but not controlling

Working with an influencer is a two-way relationship.  You should already have established that the influencer is a good match for your product or brand, making content that suits you both easier to create.

Your content should never force the influencer you are working with to compromise their own unique voice and style.  Followers are smart and alert. If they detect anything that doesn’t fit, alarm bells will ring. You must be comfortable with the influencer giving an honest review, even if it means pointing out issues that could be improved.  This helps re-enforce authenticity and ultimately will benefit your ROI.

Likewise, the influencer’s content should also be true to your brand, well researched and authentic. To ensure they can do this, let them know what your goals are, provide them with media and content that can help them during their content creation process and be available for them to assist when they need it.

Once you’ve reached the exciting part when the content is created and shared, dive in and help the process by sharing it on your own social media profiles.  This will help build your credibility and extend your reach.  You could even experiment with paid advertising.  It’s a big deal to be endorsed by an influencer.  Squeeze it for everything you can.

Measure results … carefully

If this is your first influencer marketing campaign, you’ll want to know exactly how it converted before you start another one.  Tracking the results will help you make good decisions about how to improve the campaign should you repeat it.

You’ll need to keep a careful record of everything relevant to your initial goals,  from the traffic it generated to the number of shares it got, to the new leads it created and ultimately the number of sales it generated if this is relevant to your goal.

Examine what’s working best.  Is one platform outperforming another? Is one influencer outperforming another?  Is your landing page converting?

Use tracking ID’s or social media reporting tools that will help you measure and evaluate data more effectively.   Once you have all the information, compare the results from the money you spent and calculate your return on investment.

How does this compare to running, let’s say Facebook ads for the same amount?

Once you’ve answered this question, you’ll know whether your influencer outreach strategy was successful.

What do you think?

Have you run an influencer marketing campaign in the past? Was it successful in helping you build your list? What were your biggest mistakes? What did you learn? We’d love to hear your experience.  Share with us by commenting below.

Tracey Meagher is the co-founder of and lives by the mantra, ‘there is always more revenue to be found’. In her passion to help solo founders and small teams find it, she studies and shares on her blog the proven methods used by the most successful online marketers. Tracey is currently a subscriber to eleventy billion mailing lists. Yay!

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